There are so many great neighborhoods in New York City to explore. I mean, it is the greatest city in the world! With five full boroughs to discover, narrowing down where you’ll spend your time when you’re in the Big Apple can be tricky. These ten neighborhoods are the ones you should definitely have on your list. Each has their own specialties, signature locales, and a feel that’s sometimes indescribable. You’ll just have to experience them for yourself.
1. Greenwich Village
This is probably my number one neighborhood in New York, for its rich history and lively present-day scene. I can just imagine the authors and musicians of the past strolling down MacDougal, stopping for a coffee at the legendary Caffe Reggio, or going to see a spot of jazz at Cafe Wha? I could spend hours reading about the history of this small area of New York, but it’s best to experience it by being there. Take your own walk and pop-in to wherever looks interesting (maybe Dante, voted one of the best bars in the world?). I love it right at sunset, when the city is coming to life.
2. Little Italy
There are many neighborhoods in New York City that are well-known, and Little Italy is definitely one of them. So many cities in the United States have followed suit and created their own Little Italy, proudly continuing the heritage of Italian immigrants with cafes and restaurants that will transport you back to Italy itself. Little Italy in New York is truly it’s own thing, and every time I’m there I marvel at the vintage signage, the people talking animatedly in the streets, and wish I was sitting at one of the many establishments that line the street so that I could just take it all in from there.
3. The Lower East Side
My love for the Lower East Side truly knows no bounds. My favorite restaurants are scattered throughout this neighborhood, the tattoo parlor where I got my first tattoo is there, and I’ve had so much fun with friends at the bars there. Technically Little Italy is part of the Lower East Side, but I thought I’d just name this whole area because it’s truly one of the best in New York! There’s also East Village and Thompkins Square Park (definitely get a bagel from the shop there) included in the bounds of the LES. It’s been known to house artists, musicians, and writers and it’s one of the neighborhoods that truly feels so New York to me.
For the shopaholic, or really anyone who loves the iconic New York look of the architecture in SoHo. This neighborhood is where all of the best shops are located, and I could spend hours traversing it’s avenues, popping into the shops that interest me. If you get thirsty, stop for a drink at Joe and the Juice. What I love about SoHo is that they have so many unique shops aside from just the bigger, well-known brands. You can shop for vintage finds, or happen upon a pop-up of a favorite brand that’s only there for a few weeks.
On first glance, Chelsea is for the art-lovers if you were to categorize the neighborhoods in New York City. With over 200 small galleries located within this neighborhood, it’s an amazing spot to peruse for artistic finds. But, Chelsea is also a great spot for the foodies among us, with Chelsea Market housing so many great food stands and restaurants within its large space. But it doesn’t stop there. Chelsea is also home to the High Line, the elevated park that’s located on former train tracks. It’s one of the most unique spots in New York, and offers a different vantage point than what you might be used to!
Possibly made famous by Dan Humphrey and Gossip Girl, Dumbo is the neighborhood to checkout when you venture across the bridge to Brooklyn. It’s actually located right off the famous Brooklyn Bridge, which offers sweeping views of New York City. You’ve probably seen many photos taken in Dumbo with the bridge in the background, but the neighborhood is attractive for other reasons too. Bop around and you’ll see why it’s so charming!
7. Upper East Side
I tend to like the East Side of Manhattan I guess, because the UES is another favorite of mine. Probably solely because of Museum Mile and Central Park. Within a few miles walk on the stretch of 5th Avenue next to Central Park, you can find the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and quite a few others. Once you get tired of viewing so many masterpieces, in just a few steps you can reach Central Park for a breath of fresh air. For these reasons, the UES is one of the best neighborhoods in New York City.
Head to northern Manhattan for a visit to Harlem, another well-known NYC neighborhood. Harlem is known for its jazz clubs, soul food, and African American heritage. After a renaissance in the early 20th century, the neighborhood has been driven by literature, music, dance, and art. The architecture is also noteworthy, with its mix of brownstones and modern high rises. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Apollo Theater, located on 125th Street.
9. Brooklyn Heights
If you’re in Brooklyn, you should definitely check out Brooklyn Heights in addition to some of the other great neighborhoods in New York City, and the Brooklyn borough! Brooklyn Heights is a residential area with elegant and historic brownstones, but the main reason for your visit will probably be the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Head to the promenade along the East Rive or the Brooklyn Bridge Park and take in the marvelous views!
This neighborhood is in the Bronx, and is actually known as the Bronx’s own Little Italy. Stroll down Arthur Avenue and marvel in the feeling of going back in time! This is where you can find some of the best Italian delis and restaurants in New York City. The Bronx is also known for its Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, and for being the home of the Yankees.
What other neighborhoods in New York City do you love? Share them with us in the comments below!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.